Providing care in an infectious disease clinic. Why students volunteer

Naty Lopez, Michael Glick, Peter Berthold

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


This qualitative study explores the motivations of dental students who volunteered as care providers for patients identified as carriers of infectious diseases. The study involved 12 students, seven 4th year and five 3rd year students who worked 1-2.5 days per week in an infectious disease clinic in a dental school in the northeastern United States. 4 faculty members who also volunteered their time in the clinic supervised the students. Personal interviews were conducted with each student to determine their reasons for volunteering and to explore the perceived significance of their experiences in the clinic. Internal validity was established through group interviews wherein responses during the personal interviews were discussed with the students. All 12 students were interested in Oral Medicine and all 4th year students had completed a course on HIV-AIDS for their selective requirement. Students expressed willingness to care for patients who are medically compromised in anticipation of an increase of this type of patients in their future practice. Previous exposure to a family member or friend or patients (non-dental) who were terminally ill or to patients with HIV was another common reason. All 12 students preferred to work in the infectious disease clinic more than in other school clinics. They felt that there was more faculty-student interaction and a more stimulating learning atmosphere that the faculty created. The students felt that the patients treated in the clinic were more appreciative. Students also claim they experienced more team spirit among their fellow students and staff and that the clinic atmosphere was more relaxed and less competitive. Students got the most satisfaction from helping patients who were perceived to have had problems in accessing care prior to their visit to the clinic. Results of the study show that the students volunteered to treat patients who are known to have infectious diseases such as HIV/AIDS because they find personal and academic satisfaction from working in a clinic which provides care to individuals with specific medical needs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)138-142
Number of pages5
JournalEuropean Journal of Dental Education
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1998
Externally publishedYes


  • Infectious disease
  • Students
  • Volunteer
  • Willingness to care


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